The Jamie Baum Septet+
The Jamie Baum Septet was formed in ’99 and has been Baum’s compositional muse ever since.
Having specific players to write for is a bandleader/composer’s dream and offers an incredible opportunity for experimentation and growth, as has certainly been the case with this band. Allowing Baum the opportunity to perform her compositions and arrangements/orchestrations with the colors and textures of this instrumentation has offered unique, exciting and endless possibilities. As Baum states, “I’m fortunate to get to play with such great players who can play anything…I can really let my imagination fly.”
Until 2010 the band included Ralph Alessi, Doug Yates, Tom Varner replaced by Chris Komer in ‘08, George Colligan, Jeff Hirshfield and Drew Gress replaced by Johannes Weidenmueller in ’07. Early years with regular NYC gigs at the Knitting Factory, Cornelia St. Cafe, etc. allowed the Septet to develop a cohesive, distinctive sound and personality, leading to higher profile dates (i.e., Jazz Standard, Joe’s Pub, the JVC Festival, Flynn Theater (VT), Rochester Jazz Festival, Painted Bride (PA), Walton Arts (AK), Outpost (NM)) and European tours and festivals.
They recorded Moving Forward, Standing Still (’04, OmniTone), featuring music inspired by Stravinsky and Bartok which received 4 stars in DownBeat and made several “Best CDs of ‘04” lists. Solace (‘08, Sunnyside), included an ‘03 CMA New Works commission featuring music influenced by Charles Ives. and a ’07 CMA Encore grant enabled them to perform this music on a mid-west tour and at NYC’s Merkin Concert Hall.
Changes in Direction
After several tours to South Asia, Baum’s musical direction took a departure in 2010 reflecting those experiences. This precipitated personnel changes and an expansion of the band to reflect this new direction, hence The Jamie Baum Septet+. Adding the perfect dimension were Brad Shepik and Amir ElSaffar, who while rooted in jazz, both had extensive experience with non-western music traditions and exploring ways to personalize those elements. Zack Lober and John Escreet’s modern harmonic approach and rhythmic flexibility offered a great balance. Dan Weiss’ study of Indian music, the tabla and modern jazz made him the perfect guest on their subsequent release, In This Life (Sunnyside, ’13). Reviews in NYTimes, DownBeat, etc., features on NPR’s All Things Considered, WBGO, several “Best CDs” lists (ITunes, DownBeat, NPR Jazz Critics Poll) brought performances at the Jazz Standard, Jazz Gallery, Winter Jazzfest, Sedutirol (Italy), North Sea Jazz Festival, Kennedy Center, Roulette, etc. and a nomination for Best Midsize Ensemble of 2014 by The Jazz Journalists Association – on a list with only two other bands: The Wayne Shorter Quartet and Steve Coleman and Five Elements.
Ms. Baum, along with only two other jazz/improvised music composers, Steve Coleman and Elliot Sharpe, received the prestigious 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship Award to compose new music for this band. This new music, along with a commission form The Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art to honor Nepal, has recently been recorded for their new CD, Bridges, to be released in the latter part of 2017.
“…on a cold night in January this reviewer decided to experience the Jamie Baum Septet at Joe’ s Pub. The experience was nothing short of extraordinary. Each tune was gripping, and played to perfection by the ensemble. The best compliment that can be given to such compositional creativity is that all concept of the passage of time was lost… I had been transported… for what seemed like precious few moments, but it was enough to leave me breathless and wanting more.”
— David Miller, All About Jazz NYC
The Jamie Baum Septet+
Jamie Baum – flutes
Amir ElSaffar – trumpet
Sam Sadigursky – alto sax/b. clarinet
Chris Komer – French horn
Brad Shepik – guitar
John Escreet – piano
Zack Lober – bass
Jeff Hirshfield – drums